The Langdon Street Cafe
A Nostalgic Look Back


 

For many years this was the website for the Langdon Street Cafe.
The Cafe closed on May 28th, 2011.
Although the Cafe has closed, its memory lives on with the new owners of the domain.
Content is from the Cafe's early days 2006 -2008 as well as from other outside sources.
Enjoy the nostalgic look back

Café finds its niche on Langdon Street

By Sky Barsch Times Argus Staff Oct 27, 2005 | www.timesargus.com/

MONTPELIER – A little more than a year ago, the building at 4 Langdon St. was under renovation, an army at work inside turning a record shop into something new. A year later and the Langdon Street Café has established itself as part of Montpelier's flowering nightlife scene. On any given weekday, groups meet there, poets write, artists draw and patrons pontificate over coffee and tea. At night the place turns into a musical venue that showcases jazz to funk to folk with a beer or a glass of wine. The army that did the interior conversion work – The Army of Fun – is really a collective partnership of five young entrepreneurs who own and operate the café. It attracts some of the more colorful of the city's characters.

And after a year of success, the owners – Lisa Masé, Noah Hahn, Emily Hershberger, Meg Hammond and Wes Hamilton – are throwing a birthday party to thank their customers and invite them back for another year. "It's incredible to me how on a Saturday morning there can be families here with their kids playing with toys and having some cake," Masé said Wednesday as she and the other owners sat down for an interview. "And on a Sunday night there can be people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, eating chocolate cake, drinking wine and listening to some really nice jazz."

The café opened last fall about the same time as the Black Door, which also features lots of musicians. With these two venues and others – Riverwalk Records, Charlie-O's and the lounge at New England Culinary Institute Main Street building — Montpelier's downtown seems to have erupted with music. While some observers worried there weren't enough people to support all the drinking and entertainment venues, so far those concerns have been unfounded.

The Langdon Street Café owners say each place, especially theirs, has been able to find its niche. No one's closed up shop. And, on nights when a lot is going on downtown, groups of patrons travel from place to place, Hershberger said. "I feel like the café was really in the forefront of the creative renaissance in town and talking with friends who are in their 50s, this happened 25 years ago, but it kind of died down. … And now it seems that all of these businesses are opened, like the Black Door, and Positive Pie," Masé said. "Montpelier is becoming a destination and everyone has their niche."

The Langdon Street Café has catered to artists and those with alternative tastes, in a sense the opposite of a rowdy sports bar. Some of its most unusual entertainment offerings include the monthly "Mystery Fun Night," politically charged open mike performances and Wednesday's informational table about the decline of the buffalo. The owners also like to point out that the café has been an incubator for Ben T. Matchstick, a local artist who runs the CTI – the Cardboard Teck Institute – apparent by the fully functional cardboard furniture, and less functional but no less creative art around the café.

The business model, which is a worker-owned model, has become more efficient since the beginning. Majority rules, but not every little decision is debated to distraction, the owners say. Hammond explained that in the beginning, the group debated something as simple as picking the interior paint colors. But the five owners have learned to trust one another when it comes to decision making. Everyone has a managerial role, whether that's booking bands, paying bills or deciding on the menu.

The café tries to use and promote local products, from Nutty Steph's Granola to Wolaver's beer. In turn, the community has given back, whether that be by random visitors organizing the bookshelf or cleaning up the toys. The café's community is full of resources and generous, says Hamilton, who explained that when the group needed a new computer printer, someone posted a sign. "Now we have six," he said. Goals include having all the workers at the café become owner-workers.

Five who are now employed aren't yet owners. Friday's party will include a masquerade ball, tricks, treats and surprises, with tickets at $10. Local beers and organic wines are on tap, as is the band Mad Dub, which takes the stage at 10 p.m. 

Langdon Street Café 2006

The Langdon Street Café 2006
4 Langdon St. Montpelier, Vt. 05602

The Langdon Street Café is open from 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday – Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday. Come visit us!

The Langdon Street Café is a collectively owned and operated community space in Montpelier. Come to the Café to hear live music, view monthly rotating art shows, meet your friends, play chess, read, write, debate, and dream. The Café offers organic coffee and espresso drinks, teas, local beers, organic wines, soups, sandwiches, home-baked treats, and delicious desserts.

We operate the business with no hierarchy so that every worker has a voice in the decision we make. We strive to become completely worker owned and operated. We believe in supporting a sustainable local economy and using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. The Café is home to the only hand pulled manual espresso machine in Central Vermont. Visit the café to learn about the art of espresso drinks.

 

 

About the Langdon Street Cafe:
We Are Worker-Owned and Operated!

The Langdon Street Cafe' is owned and operated by the Langdon Street Cafe' Collective. What that means is that most everyone you see working behind the counter of our cafe' is a part-owner of the business.

We've written this letter in hopes of clarifying just exactly what that means, and why we have chosen to operate our business in this way.

We believe strongly in doing what we can to help create a world that is based on fairness, respect, equality, and democracy; for everyone. Sounds simple enough- you'd think that most everyone would say they feel the same. Oddly enough though, we live in a culture where we have come to expect far less, especially from our work places and the business community.
Capitalism is an economic and political system based on hierarchy, inequality, and consolidated power. As we see it, this is a social relationship that is unsustainable for working people, communities, and the planet as a whole. If we are truly interested in building a sustainable world; one based on equality, respect, and democracy for everyone, then we must find ways of building horizontal relationships that do not divide us as bosses and employees, but rather, ones which unite us as equals. 

We make no romanticized claims about the glory's of this way of doing things. Nothing worth obtaining comes without struggle and challenges. We each work full-time jobs behind this counter, serving the amazing people of this community. In addition, we have divided the managerial tasks (the jobs that normally would be taken care of by a manager or owner) into committees, with each worker-owner overseeing several committees in order to accomplish the many tasks of running a business. We meet no less than once a week in order to share information regarding the work of each committee, as well as to make general decisions regarding the running of the cafe'. We butt heads, we disagree, and we occasionally take a really long time to come to a conclusion. However, we make all of our decisions unanimously, with the hopes, ideals, and concerns of each one of us taken into consideration. Everyone's voice is heard and respected, and at the end of the night, each one of us knows that the entire Collective is here to support each other.

Cask conditioned beers will be available again in the cool fall. Friday June 16 will be the last keg for the summer.

What the heck is a beer engine?

A beer engine is an antique english tap system for dispensing real ale.
Before refrigerators, carbon-dioxide tanks, and tasteless industrial fizz, there was Real Ale.
Real ale is beer that is naturally carbonated, naturally cooled, and naturally pulled up from the basement by the arm strength of the bartender. This is the way beer was traditionally served in England. It disappeared for a while because of industrialization, but is experiencing a renaissance in England and in the States.

Real Ale tastes better. Its a little warmer, a little flatter and a little cloudier, but beer people love real ale. Its more of a whole food than typical beer because it still contains living yeast. The yeast is there to do a little extra conditioning in the cask providing carbonation. The cask is then kept still and cool (on the basement floor of the café in our case) to help the beer stabalize and the yeast settle out. The cellar master then punches a small hole in the top of the cask to let it vent pressure before serving. An hour later a tap is hammered in and the beer is ready to be pulled up to the bar by the beer engine.

Every Friday at 6 p.m. a new cask will be tapped at the cafe. Casks will come from Rock Art, the Shed, McNeils, and other breweries around the state and possibly a few from England. So come down to the café and have the bartenders pull you a pint!

 



 

Tonight at the Café:

INFORMATION OVERLOAD W/ JEN DOLE :: 7PM

Use your brain for a change and answer these questions as a team or as an individual. Gain glory and power over everyone else, briefly, with your superior knowledge of useless, obscure, or really random information. No Googling allowed. $1 buy in for trivia, and the winner takes all. Suggested donations for the game master.
Genre: geeky

 

OPEN COMEDY MIC :: 8:30PM

Banjo Bob hosts this evening of enchanted comedy. CAUTION: Anything goes. Jokes and four letter words. Or six letter words, just BE FUNNY. Slots are 5 minutes long. Ages 18 and up. Sign up at 8pm
Genre: Comedy

 

Wednesday, June 09

 

JUSTIN TRAWICK :: 9PM

...awaiting confirmation
Genre: Acoustic

Thursday, June 10

KATIE SAWICKI :: 7:30PM

Katie Sawicki has brought emotion back to urban edge folk. Songs crafted from years on the road, past loves, contemplations of a changing music industry and folk ruminations of the crowded city life define this singersongwriter. Hailed as a "Singstress, Songwriter, lyrical Genius" (Encore Magazine), Sawicki is a self-taught guitarist, quickly making a name for herself. Sawicki is handed down by the influences of Josh Ritter, Jenny Lewis, Ryan Adams, Iron and Wine, and Patty Griffin. In conjunction with a move to the Northwest, Sawicki released her most recent project, Time Spent Lost. This record defines a new kind of indie music. The album blends the roots of contemporary folk with experimental production elements. Each song is testimate to the careful nature in which Sawicki composes and performs.
Genre: Folk

TALL TALL TREES :: 9PM

New York City quartet Tall Tall Trees plays a unique brand of banjo driven folk rock. Their self-titled debut, released in 2009 is garnering high praise for it’s unusual blend of bluegrass, world music, and indie rock. Founded by songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Mike Savino in 2006, along with guitarist Kyle Sanna, drummer Mathias Kunzli and bassist Benjamin Campbell, the band has developed a reputation for it’s high energy shows and dynamic musicianship. “A perfect storm of catchy songwriting” -Jezebel Music “The Allman Brothers meets the Muppets” -Alan Murray
Genre: freak folk

Friday, June 11

FULL TANG :: 10PM

Hot on the heels of the Hot Pink Party, FULL TANG returns. The core members of Boston's The Superpowers brings masterful groove element to the groove floor. FULL TANG is a dance band blending music from Zimbabwe, Guinea, Benin, and Nigeria with traditional American song. This gives birth to American Highlife music. FULL TANG is about bringing the raw element. Experience FULL TANG!
Genre: world music

Saturday, June 12

TREAT HER RIGHT :: 10PM

MEMBERS OF SESSION AMERICANA TURN IT UP. Treat Her Right is a blues rock and group formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1984. The band originally featured Mark Sandman on guitar, Billy Conway on drums, Dave Champagne on guitar, and Jim Fitting on harmonica. Singing and songwriting duties were shared by all but Conway. Champagne and Fitting reformed the band in 2009 with new members Steve Mayone and Billy Beard. In addition to being the forerunner to the successful indie rock band Morphine, Treat Her Right is often credited with helping to spawn the punk-blues hybrid (sometimes dubbed cowpunk, among other titles) that achieved prominence in the early 2000s.- from wikipedia
Genre: Rock

Monday, June 14

OPEN MIC :: 7PM

Sign up begins promptly at 7pm. Stage opens at 7:30pm. Please make a purchase at the bar before signing up. No pushing or shoving! Slots are now 10 minutes in length, or two songs. Last slot is 10:20pm. Your host: Sage Mayhew
Genre: Anything Goes

Tuesday, June 15

DB LEONARD :: 9PM
info to come
Genre: freak folk

Wednesday, June 16

BIRCH BONES :: 8PM

Birch Bones is an acoustic duo based out of Burlington, VT. Featuring the hypnotic acoustic stylings of guitarist Gordon Goldsmith and the soulful vocals of underground sensation Sarah May, Birch Bones has been wowing local audiences with their combination of poetic songwriting and knockout delivery. At once bluesy, folky, and something else altogether, the duo have been described as going "backwards in time", creating simple music for a troubled world.
Genre: Acoustic

GRANT BLACK :: 9PM

Grant Black is a guitar / drums duo from midwest Vermont playing a fusion of roots, rock and blues that draws on the classic (Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Johnny Cash) and the contemporary (Chris Whitley, Drive-by-Truckers, King’s X). Grant Black are masters of “ominosity,” scoring the calm and the storm. Guitarist / vocalist Josh Brooks and drummer Kent Blackmer blend driving riffs with brooding word-smithery, brewing their own particular color and thunder.
Genre: Rock

Thursday, June 17

TO BE ANNOUNCED :: TBA

To be announced is the hottest band/songwriter that you have stumbled randomly upon in Montpelier and otherwise.
Genre: Experimental

Friday, June 18

CAN KICKERS :: 9PM

The Can Kickers play loud, fast old timey music with a booming backbeat. Think what would happen if Minor Threat and the Ramones picked up banjoes and fiddles and joined a New Orleans-style second line. The Can Kickers like to play shows for people who like to dance. They've played over 700 shows since 2000 in basements, living rooms, bars, clubs, festivals, bomb shelters, on the back of a moving bus, on the back of a moving pickup truck, and even at a stadium once. They've played all over the US multiple times as well as in Ireland and the Netherlands. They also just barely survived a 7 week tour of Mexico in 2007. It's all about having a good time, so come out and see them live when you can. "The Can Kickers really know how to turn an old-time tune into a joyful, foot-stomping, shout it out, party!" -Tommy Ramone "The Can Kickers are about as high-energy as it gets, and by the end of their set they had drawn some listeners out of their chairs to the front of the stage....We were tapping our feet until earl-aye in the morning." -Nashville Scene
Genre: Old Time

Saturday, June 19

ELECTRIC JUNKYARD GAMELON :: 9PM

Electric Junkyard Gamelan is the brainchild of bandleader and composer Terry Dame. Born out of desire to create a totally new and original sound Dame fused her two passions, making music and inventing and building things to form this totally unique group. While studying Balinese Gamelan in graduate school in 1997, Dame became intrigued with the high energy interlocking rhythms and the amazing ring of overtones created by the ensemble of metal gongs and xylophone-type instruments used in traditional Balinese music. An inventor by nature she began experimenting with making mainly percussion instruments out of found objects and junk from the local scrap yard. Thus was born the Electric Junkyard Gamelan.
Genre: world music

Monday, June 21

OPEN MIC :: 7PM

Sign up begins promptly at 7pm. Stage opens at 7:30pm. Please make a purchase at the bar before signing up. No pushing or shoving! Slots are now 10 minutes in length, or two songs. Last slot is 10:20pm. Your host: Sage Mayhew
Genre: Anything Goes

Tuesday, June 22

MISSOULA OBLONGATA PRESENTS: THE DAUGHTER OF THE FATHER OF TIME-MOTION STUDY :: 9PM

...info to come
Genre: Theater

Wednesday, June 23

VOLTAIC/HARMONIC: ELECTRONICA SHOWCASE :: 8PM

Langdon Street Cafe's monthly showcase of electronica artists and new digital collaborations featuring local musicians. Electronica, trance, glitch-pop, minimal, expiremental, noise and dance mix.
Genre: geeky

Thursday, June 24

MANIFEST NEXTO ME :: 9PM

A reunion of a great local band...."Consequently, and with great primal frustration, the modern children would systematically emote and de-analyze, each with the rash perfection of impulse. The dithering of such collective, cerebral ramblings, thus conjoining the hand of empirical influence with the foot of self-apartness, never yields the tonic of naked, crystalline communication. It is merely alluding to the dream." ..
Genre: Experimental

Friday, June 25

SESSION AMERICANA WITH GUEST JOCIE ADAMS :: 9:30PM

Session Americana sit tightly around a small café table, ambient mics tuned to catch the whole sound of the voices and instruments. Asuitcase drum kit, an old electric bass, a bunch of acoustic instruments, a field organ  this format feels very theatrical and though the musicians face each other, the audience feels drawn into the circle by the warmth, joy and camaraderie that emanate outwards by the all star cast of characters seated around the table. What keeps you coming back show after show is the same thing that any audience member longs for  great songs performed by a great band. The six core members of the band have brought enviable careers worth of experience to the "table", featuring(current and former) members of Treat Her Right, Patty Griffin, Lori McKenna, The The, Dennis Brennan and Kris Delmhorst. The group has grown from a rag tag jam at a local pub into a regional institution, playing gigs from church coffee houses to urban nightclubs, from regional festival tents to large halls. The band has sold out Harvard Square's legendary Club Passim, and has performed at special events including Boston's historical "First Night" ringing in the new year. $12 adv. $15 at the door.
Genre: Americana

JOCELYN ADAMS :: 9PM

Jocie from The Low Anthem starts the night with her original compositions. She will also sit in with Session Americana. A great night! COVER $12
Genre: Acoustic

Saturday, June 26

JOHNSON'S CROSSROADS :: 9:00PM

Johnson's Crossroad has taken their love of old time mountain music, bluegrass, and the Texas singer/songwriters of the 1970s to create a sound that they have coined "bent acoustic country". The band's original material is steeped in the traditional country themes of lost love, lost fortune, lost time, and overcoming hardships. Vintage style mics are used for their live performances to create intimacy between both the band members and their audience.
Genre: Country

Monday, June 28

EARTHQUAKE RELIEF BENEFIT FOR THE MUNSEL SCHOOL IN TIBET :: 8PM

On April 14th a 6.9 magnitude earthquake leveled the Tibetan region of Jyekundo known as Yushu, China. The 35 children of The Munsel School lost their entire school in the earthquake and for many of them this a place they call home. On June 28th form 8 to 11pm at the Langdon Street Cafe, local musicians will gather to play a benefit concert to raise funds to directly help rebuild The Munsel School. These Tibetan children are currently living in a tent city, yet still attending classes taught by the teacher from the school. Proceeds from the benefit will go directly to The Munsel Foundation and will help buy new school supplies, rebuild the schools greenhouses, and provide bedding and clothes to the children that live at the school. Performers include: Miriam Bernardo, Aliza Paglia, Heidi Wilson, George White, John Cleary, Rachel Rice, Kate Sprout, and more to be announced.
Genre: Acoustic

Wednesday, June 30

THE PAPER BOAT MUSIC TOUR FEAT. DENITIA ODIGIE, DANNY MALONE, AIMEE BOBRUK, AND CJ VINSON :: 8PM

Denitia Odigie www.myspace.com/denitiaodigie Denitia Odigie is the beautifully comfortable mesh of Corinne Bailey Rae and Nneka on a sunny Saturday afternoon. Her heartfelt vocals dance effortlessly on top of crisp complex Neo-soul arrangements. Denitia is signed to the same publishing company as Jace Everett (performer of the Trueblood theme song), so we can all expect to see big things in Ms. Odigie's bright and soulful future. " Danny Malone www.myspace.com/therealdannymalone "...the playfulness of a Connor Oberst and the power of a Jimmy Gnecco..." " ...a perfect balance between intelligence and accessibility." Aimee Bobruk www.myspace.com/aimeebobruk "Aimee Bobruk presents a notable debut with The Safety Match Journal. It's something to please Cowboy Junkies fans, given Bobruk's dreamy, Timmins-esque vocal languor and the CJ's Kim Deschamps on steel. Bobruk's songwriting recently center the folk-pop cocoon and tries out its muted-color wings with gorgeous instrumentation and a flutter of hesitancy...Bobruk brims with potential and plenty of time to test the waters." CJ Vinson www.myspace.com/cjvinson "charming, emotional acoustic rock, with a hint of retro 60's folk..."
Genre: Singer/Songwriter



2008 A NEW LOOK

 

up next at the Café

Langdon Street Café was voted one of the top 16 music venues in Vermont by Vermont Life Magazine, Spring 2007! Come see why!

Here's our events calendar for the next 15 days, according to the selections you have made. For specific dates, use the handy calendar at right. To list by genre, or for different periods into the future, use the pull-down menus.

hours

Mon-Thurs 8 am to 11 pm
Friday 8 am to 12:30 am
Saturday 9 am to 12:30 am
Sunday 9 am to 11 pm

performance type days ahead to scan
date performance time

Tuesday, May 13

Game Night 7 PM
Wednesday, May 14 Gretchen Witt 8 PM
Wednesday, May 14 Monkey Rock 9 PM
Thursday, May 15 Stephanie's ID 8 PM
Friday, May 16 Friday Happy Hour with Miriam Bernardo 6-8pm
Friday, May 16 2 Adam 12 9
Saturday, May 17 Hothouse Hens 9 PM
Saturday, May 17 Stripmall Ballads 9 PM
Sunday, May 18 Dave Keller Guitar Student Showcase 4 PM
Sunday, May 18 Jazz night w/ Moroz, Harvey, Santor Trio 7 PM
Monday, May 19 Open Mic 8 PM
Tuesday, May 20 Evan Crandell and the Too Hot To Handle 8 PM
Wednesday, May 21 Michael Chorney and Arthur Brooks New Nameless Trio 8
Thursday, May 22 Drag 8 PM
Thursday, May 22 The Divorced 9:30
Friday, May 23 Happy Hour w/ Miriam Bernardo and Friends 6 pm- 8pm
Friday, May 23 Avi and Celia with Nate Leath 9 PM
Saturday, May 24 Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band 8
Saturday, May 24 Pariah Beat 9:30 PM
Sunday, May 25 Paris Bathtub 7pm
Monday, May 26 Open Mic 8 PM
Tuesday, May 27 Mystery Fun Night 8
Wednesday, May 28 Michael Chorney and Arthur Brooks New Nameless Trio 8 PM

 


Check out The Glad-iator,
our cheap art vending machine!



breakfast menu

 


The TWO EGG SCRAMBLER
Two Free Range Eggs scrambled with Melted Cheddar,
And two toppings of your choice
With a side of Mangi’s toast

GREEN OMELET
A 2-egg omelet mixed with pesto and
Stuffed generously with
Sautéed Kale and Caramelized onions
With a side of Manghi’s toast of your choice

ROOSTER
An Egg & Cheese Sandwich topped with
Roasted Red Peppers, Sautéed Kale & Caramelized Onions,
On your choice of bagel

PRESTO
An Egg and Cheese Sandwich topped with
Pesto & Roasted Garlic,
On Wheat Toast

SUNRISE
An Egg and Cheese Sandwich topped with
Tomatoes, Carmelized Onions and Crispy Bacon,
On your choice of Manghi's Toast

VEGAN KNOCKOUT
A vegan open-faced Bagel Sandwich Topped with Tofutti,
Caramelized Onions & Roasted Red Peppers

BAGELS
All our bagels are freshly baked
And delivered each day from
K.C. Bagels in Waterbury, VT
Ask your server for today's selection.

BUILD YOUR OWN
(All sandwiches include egg & cheese)

OPTIONS:
Fillings
Tempeh, Turkey, Bacon

Toppings
Sauteéd Kale, Roasted Garlic
Tomatoes, Roasted Red Peppers
Flack Family Farm Sauerkraut,
Roasted Red Peppers

Spreads
Mayo, Dijon Mustard
Horseradish Mustard
Vegetaballs Farm Pesto

Local Mangi’s Bread
Rye, Wheat, Dilly

OUR SUPPLIERS:

Our eggs come from Vermont Compost Company.
This means the eggs are always
Fresh, local and free-range!

The Turkey and Bacon are both from
Locally owned and operated
Vermont Smoke and Cure in Barre

We Have the Best Muffins in Town!
Try one today!!

 



Langdon Street Café Closes 2011

Langdon Street Cafe to Close

May 2, 2011 | http://www.greenmountaindaily.com/

(I wouldn’t normally promote something about a specific business like this, but Langdon Street Cafe is kind of special.  I totally get the decision to close, but it’s always been one of my favorite place to eat, drink coffee, and websurf in between other events in our capital city.   – promoted by JulieWaters)

…so says the Burlington Free Press. The Cafe will shut its doors at the end of the month. It’s a significant loss for the central Vermont cultural scene; throughout its seven years of existence, the Cafe had maintained a ridiculously ambitious concert schedule. And while it attracted good crowds, it was never profitable. Freeps:

“The under-story is we never made money,” said Ben T. Matchstick, the cafe’s impresario whose partner, Meg Hammond, is the owner of the business. He and Hammond have an 18-month-old son and Matchstick said they can’t afford to go further into debt.

Perfectly understandable, and still sad. Best wishes to Ben and Meg; they’d done yeoman’s work on the Cafe, and I hope their next venture will be both creative and lucrative.  

 

 

Langdon Street Cafe the Last Party

May 2, 2011 | Anne Galloway | https://vtdigger.org/

Ben T. Matchstick and Meg Hammond never forgot how to play — even when they were working 85 hours a week to keep Langdon Street Café afloat. Evening performances at Langdon were like one long rotating party complete with improv performers, outlandish decorations and wild dress-up outfits.

Over the course of the last seven years, Langdon hosted masquerade balls, vaudeville weekends, burlesque shows and fringe experimental performances. Matchstick and Hammond held fanciful evening soirees — the hot pink party, legendary night, nutty ballet — that were as much about mingling and finding romance as they were about experiencing a party that was half-performance.

It was, as Matchstick put it, “a big playpen” for 20- and 30-somethings.

Their last night was no different. Last weekend Matchstick and Hammond bid a fond farewell to their fans and friends to mark the close of the café, and they did so the only way they know how — with an over-the-top final show that mixed live music, theater and socializing over drinks. They brought back their famous kissing booth one last time. Amateur actors pranced around in risqué cabaret outfits (one sported short-shorts over fishnet stockings and a fake German accent), jugglers worked the crowd and Cirkestra played soulful klezmer-style circus music.

The crowning moment was a real-life touch: Hammond, dressed in a poofy Texas whorehouse-style dress, pretended to be an animal trainer, cracking the whip at three performers (wearing fake leopard skin coats) as they performed tricks, the last of which was a partial disrobing that revealed the words “Will,” “You,” “Marry” emblazoned on their chests. Hammond thrust the word “Me?” at Matchstick, along with lollipop that bore “yes” or “no” signs. Matchstick licked the candy and enthusiastically nodded his head up and down. The crowd gasped; champagne bottles were uncorked and the band struck up a chorus.

Hammond’s parting proposal was as much a bid for marriage as it was a pitch for a starting over after a long stint in the 24/7 world of restauranteering.

Unlike most late-night venues, Langdon not only held its doors open into the wee hours, the café also served coffee and continental breakfast fare at 8a.m. The day began with commuters and then segued into a lunch/laptop away-from-the-home office crowd. By late afternoon, most days young mothers played board games with their children at the booth tables. In the evening, people came in from work to relax with a beer at the bar. By 7 p.m., the music started all over again.

If theatricality was Langdon’s trademark, the nightly concerts were the café’s evening stock in trade. Over the course of the last four years, Langdon hosted 2,200 shows. Singer songwriter Anais Mitchell made her debut at Langdon, and she brought her musician friends to play there for “Transcontinental review.” Klezmer, classical, death metal, rock, R&B, jazz, reggae — you name it and they played it. Some of the names that made the stage included The Low Anthem, Session Americana, Mike and Ruthy, Nathan Moore, Devan Sprule and Young Republic.

Much as they loved the bands, the theater, the customers, their employees, Hammond and Matchstick didn’t enjoy the long hours or the meager compensation. (Hammond took home $8,000 last year.) Despite a concerted effort to beef up the menu, hire a chef, and run Langdon more efficiently as a restaurant, their plans stalled when a leak in the building this spring pushed out a tenant and made a portion of the cafe unusable.

With a wedding looming in the not so distant future, and the long days behind the bar counter behind them, Hammond and Matchstick, both in their mid-30s, will go back to their former lives — Hammond as a visual artist and Matchstick as a theater performer.

“We” “Wish” “Them” “Joy” “And” “Luck.”

 

 


LangdonStreetCafe.com